This month is Mental Health Awareness month. I want to take this opportunity to tell you my struggle with mental health. It was in 1994 that I hit rock bottom. I did not know it at the time because I had been so close to the end of my rope it became second nature going through the slow motions of depression and sorrow.
I was staying at a friend’s house as I planned my ascendance into playing music full-time. I had scrimped and saved and really worked my ass off to put all the moveable parts together to make a real, sincere, heartfelt go of it.
What I hadn’t planned for was the uncertainty of my two fellow band mates taking the summer off to go to the beach to hang out with their girlfriends. I understood. They were beautiful and a lot of fun and my friends were much younger than I. Who was I to tell them that I finally could plan, work and execute what was such a big endeavor for me. Before that, I just knocked around and did the easy thing of jamming with some friends and getting gigs. I had a concept, a philosophy and a mission. I wrote an album worth of songs, worked on the cover art for the jewel case for the cassette and CD. I was stoked.
After they left for the shore, I was devastated. My funds ran out, I lost my head of steam and I fell into a deep depression, into deep despair, and I felt sorry for myself. Days prior I could taste freedom and the dizzying heights of self-confidence and satisfaction of completing something and seeing something come to fruition for the first time in my life.
I did not leave my attic bedroom. It was an unbelievably hot and humid summer. I did not have money for food, air conditioning or even change to do my laundry. I slept all the time and was wasting away. I had hit an all-time low, rock bottom. I had no one to talk to, nowhere to turn. I did not care if I lived or died. I was fortunate that my friend I rented the room from had the courage to exercise a healthy dose of much-needed tuff love.
She told me that I needed to move out. She explained that she did not want to come home and find her friend gone… not physically mind you but metaphysically. She called a friend who was a psychologist to come over and talk to me. My options because of where the house was, to either commitment myself to a nearby hospital or get on a waiting list for another hospital who had an outpatient day program. I was terrified of committing myself. I had performed at a psyche ward playing guitar and singing and I knew what that looked like and the idea of being locked behind iron doors with a bunch of mentally ill people was not an option. I enjoyed volunteering my time to brighten up their day, but I could not and would not become one of them.
A few days went by and I finally broke down and called my parents. I explained to them what was going on and that I hadn’t eaten in a while and that I had nowhere to go. I was instructed by my parents too – “Just get here…” So, I loaded up the truck and moved away from there.
To Be Continued…
JEFF S TURNBULL